Despite advice, she entered education | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Despite advice, she entered education 

Despite advice to the contrary from loving family, she became an educator. 

Even though Erica (Bass) Fishbach’s grandmother – a Milwaukee Public Schools educator and librarian for many years – tried to deter her from going into teaching, Fishbach couldn’t help but follow her heart and soul into education.  

As a young girl, Fishbach was drawn to the education field and often wanted to be the teacher’s helper. Growing up, Fishbach was (and still is) surrounded by educators.  

“Teaching just kind of runs in the family,” she said. “My grandma told us all to not go into teaching and somehow most of us (grandkids) have gone into teaching in some way, shape or form. Gotta love how that works! When it’s something you grow up with and you see happening around you, you kind of want to be a part of it.”  

Fishbach’s mother has been a substitute teacher for more than 20 years and her husband, Jeff, teaches middle school history at Maple Dale.  

Fishbach graduated from Indiana University in 2012 with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and moved back to Milwaukee, where she took her first teaching position as an assistant in a K4 classroom at Milwaukee Jewish Day School. She taught there for two years before getting her own classroom at Gan Ami Early Childhood Education. Fast forward to today – Fishbach is now teaching in the K3 classrooms at Jewish Beginnings. She has also taught Sunday school at both Congregation Shalom and Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid.  

Fishbach interviewed at Jewish Beginnings back in 2018 when Nathan, her oldest, was just under a year old, but she decided that she wasn’t quite ready to give up being a stay-at-home mom. So instead, she worked a day or two a week at Gan Ami, just to stay involved in education. 

When Fishbach was finally ready to put Nathan in the care of a center, Jewish Beginnings had an opening, and it was beshert. She said how warm and welcoming the staff at Jewish Beginnings has been to both her and her boys and that she is now thrilled to now be a part of that staff.  

Fishbach currently works the morning shift so that she can be home when her youngest, Ryan, gets off the bus. While only being with the students for three hours a day can be challenging, Fishbach is grateful to be able to also spend the time with her boys.  

“I really get the best of both worlds,” she said. “I always wondered how I could be a teacher watching other people’s kids and not give my own kids the time of day. So it’s really been valuable that I can work and be with other children in the morning, and then I come home and get quality time with my own children in the afternoon.” 

As a teacher, Fishbach loves to get messy with hands-on learning. She says that sensory experiences really help the 3-year-olds exercise their creative process, “the touchy feely stuff is so valuable, especially the younger they are. That’s something I like to do in all of my classrooms – just pull out the mess!” Fishbach really enjoys watching the children learn something new, “I love when you give the kids a new concept or you introduce them to something new that they’ve never done, never seen, never really knew about and you just see their face light up that they’ve discovered something new on their own.”  

She believes the teachers’ job is to guide the students, but to really allow the discovery and creativity to come from within them. She enjoys seeing the unique touch and sense of self that each child brings to their work.  

She would like people to know that she has a lot of fun teaching, and it’s not just a job for her, “It’s a very rewarding experience for me in the sense that I feel like I can really make a difference. I love that I get to be the extra person that gets to hang out with other people’s kids while they are at work, it’s a very fun job!” In her spare time, you might find Fishbach at a Brewer game, going for a walk through the neighborhood or booking their next family trip to Disney!  

Fishbach grew up not far from where she resides today in Fox Point with her husband, Jeff, their two boys (Nathan, 6 and Ryan, 4) and their “crazy” dog. Fishbach’s parents, sister, grandparents and mother-in-law all live within a one block radius and her brother lives in Mequon, “there’s something so valuable about being in Milwaukee and having the whole family so close knit.”  

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Writer Nicole Boico is the associate director of the Coalition for Jewish Learning of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. This regular feature, from the Coalition for Jewish Learning, is to celebrate local educators. To suggest someone for coverage, contact Boico at